Making The Best Of It
JOLIET, IL. (July 16) - Jeff Gordon struggled during the USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland Speedway with handling problems. He battled a loose handling car for the entire race and we able to pull out a top-10 finish on an otherwise forgettable afternoon. Gordon started 11th and moved to 9th by lap 6. However, he slipped to 10th and remained there until a gas-only pit stop on lap 58 moved him to 3rd. He lost positions on the restart before settling into 5th. Through the mid-stages of the race he ran in the lower half of the top-10. With 100 laps to go, he came for a pit stop to adjust the track bar and restarted 13th. Gordon was on the fringes of the top-10 in the closing stages but was distantly behind the leaders. He briefly entered the top-10 with 44 laps to go after Jimmie Johnson cut a tire and slammed the wall. However, another pit stop with 24 laps to go under caution sent him back to 13th. With 10 laps to go, he took 11th from Denny Hamlin. On the final lap he beat Clint Bowyer to the finish line to take 9th. "I thought we were going to be a lot better than that," Gordon said. " When we dropped the green I was hoping we were going to be kind of like we were last year and march our way to the front. But we never did. And we just really struggled getting the balance on the car and getting the grip that we needed and we were pretty much a 9th or 10th place car other than that time we got track position. If we could have played that pit strategy perfect, we probably could have had a top five just based on track position, but we needed to work on the car a little bit and that got us a little bit behind. I was happy there at the end because we gained spots and we were going forward. We made a good call there the last stop by putting four tires on. But our car got tight there at the end and we had been loose all day. So, I'm frustrated."
NEW YORK, N.Y. (July 9) - Jeff Gordon co-hosted "Live with Regis and Kelly" on Monday, July 9. His counterpart co-host was Kelly Ripa. Guests on the syndicated program included Jason Priestly, Alan Cumming, and Kat Deluna. This was the 10th time since 2001 that Gordon has co-hosted the show.
JOLIET, IL. (July 13) - Following the race at Daytona, Kyle Busch criticized Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson for what he perceived was a lack of help in the draft. Busch went a step further to criticize Gordon after the race during his media session. "I've just got to guess that the heat of the moment, that maybe Kyle said some things that maybe he wished he hadn't," Gordon said. "But I love racing with him, and I look forward to working with him the rest of the year as best I can." While Gordon was diplomatic about Busch's post-race antics, Jimmie Johnson put his cards squarely on the table. "I was shocked to hear his comments after last week's race," Johnson said. "He's a young driver and he's going through a growing process. He has all the skills to be a champion. He's an amazing driver and through this process I think he's going to do some growing and he needs to. Hopefully as he moves into a new team he can grow and do the right things to have a very successful and promising career. I really think he's probably one of the fastest guys on the track week in, week out but he needs to grow a little bit and mature in other areas to become a team leader and have some stability in his racing career."
By The Commish
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (July 8) - Taking chances at the end is a part of restrictor plate racing. The chances Jeff Gordon took in the closing stages of the Pepsi 400 didn't quite work out for a victory, but another top-5 finish further cemented his points lead. Gordon started on the pole on a muggy night at Daytona International Speedway based on owner's points and immediately picked up his five points for leading a lap. The car fell back in traffic and Gordon complained about the car being tight, but a convenient caution at lap 14 allowed for chassis adjustments. He remained tight in traffic, and over the course of a long green flag run fell back as far as 17th place. After a caution on lap 57, Gordon restarted in 9th, but the chassis problems continued which necessitated significant adjustments. The team pitted again after a yellow flag on lap 132 for four tires and had their fastest stop of the night. Following Jimmie Johnson in the outside lane, Gordon moved forward to fifth position before another caution on lap 144. The race restarted with 13 laps to go and Gordon maneuvered to the lead before a caution on lap 151. Even though Gordon was reshuffled to a fifth-place finish in the frenzied draft at the end, he was elated at the result. "We really struggled but I have to give a lot of credit to this race team because they made great adjustments and the car was awesome there at the end," Gordon said. "I just got hung up in traffic. A top 5 is a great finish for us because that was a top 15 car and we finished fifth." Gordon's effort allowed him to make up the 100 points lost from the Sonoma penalty. Despite having the lead in the closing stages, Gordon's handling was difficult throughout the night. "It was loose and tight, so it was kind of hard to tune on it," Gordon said. "But Jeff Meendering did a great job because we were not very good to start with and got shuffled back early and just couldn't find our way back to the front. The cautions really fell right for us. They made great adjustments and got the car better and four new Goodyears certainly helped us out and some good pit work and good pit strategy calls and great teamwork overall got us a top five. I'm extremely happy with that. I thought we had a shot at winning this thing there for a second. I knew when I lost my drafting partner and my teammates Casey Mears and Jimmie Johnson; I knew we were in trouble. It looked like those tires finally wore out on Casey so I knew I was a sitting duck at that time. Great job to Jamie McMurray too. He drove the wheels off that thing. He was completely out of control but he got to the finish line first so that's all that matters." McMurray edged Kyle Busch by inches to win his first race of the season.
LOUDON, N.H. (July 1) - Jeff Gordon started the Lenox 300 with an extra challenge: the absence of suspended crew chief Steve Letarte. Car chief Jeff Meendering and Director of Competition Ken Howes had taken his place on the pit box. Gordon started 8th and made his way to the lead by lap 31, leading his 17th race at the track and remaining in the top six through several pit stops. A two-tire pit stop made the car go loose and Gordon lost ground, but by lap 200 he was back in 4th and cautiously optimistic. At lap 263 he restarted 3rd after a caution, behind Denny Hamlin with two tires and Martin Truex Jr with four. A spirited duel with Truex ate up a large portion of the last run. Gordon took second on lap 294 but wore his tires down in the chase. He caught up with Hamlin with two laps to go and made contact with Hamlin's bumper but chose not to spin the younger competitor, crossing the finish line with a hard-fought second-place finish. "I fought so hard with Martin there that we used up a lot of our stuff," Gordon said. "We were running Denny down and I thought we had a shot at him, but that was fun. I'm really proud of Jeff Meendering and this whole team. They made great calls and thats why we're going to win some more races this year."
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